Black Birch Summer Solstice w/HVGO!

The Valley’s own “Tanglewood” moment! The Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra.
With Mission Cantina Food Truck, Holyoke Hummus Co. Food Truck.
$15.00 Cover charge – at the gate. Plus, HVGO’s NEW CD: “The Unknown Album” available for purchase at the event. So bring your own lawn chair, picnic baskets.
Kids welcome!

HVGOatBlackBirch_front_row_wide_bw HVGOatBlackBirch_Dan_Thomas HVGOatBlackBirch_Gwen_Moriarty_1 HVGOatBlackBirch_Bill_w_Kid

HVGO open rehearsal at HCC Music Colloquium, Feb. 24, 10am

On Wednesday, February 24th at the 10 am Colloquium for Holyoke Community College music students, HVGO Musical Director Peter Blanchette will lead an open rehearsal lecture demonstration on the guitar orchestra.  Guitar playing students are invite to join the orchestra in a rehearsal/workshop environment, where we will work together on sections of Ludwig van Beethoven’s masterpiece, Symphony No. 7, second movement, Allegretto, arranged for orchestra of acoustic and electric guitars.I_WANT_YOU_RecruitmentBelow are links to parts in pdf format. You DO NOT need to sight-read fluently, but looking at the part ahead if time is advised. As indicated, there are parts of varying technical levels. We cannot stress enough how welcome players are to participate- it will be fun! Just bring a guitar and, if possible, an amplifier.

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Electric Guitar Group 1 part (quite easy to play!!)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Electric Guitar 1 soloist (more challenging)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Nylon 1 (Medium level)

Beethoven 7th Allegretto Nylon 2 (very easy)

This event is made possible in part by funding from the Massachusetts Cultural Council.


Glass: Etude No. 9 score, parts, practise materials

Philip Glass: Etude No. 9 (originally for piano)

PDF Files:

Score: arr. Peter Blanchette


E1 Solo, Ricker_UPDATED 11-27-2015
E1 1 Solo 2 Thomas_UPDATED 11-27-2015
E2 Solo 1 Tomasic_UPDATED 11-27-205
E1 group Fried, Rovero UPDATED 11-27-2015
E2 group Lane, Jaeger UPDATED 11-27-2015
E3 Group Flechette, Fishman, Gerlip UPDATED 11-27-2015
Acoustics UPDATED 11-27-2015
Nylon 2 Wetherbee, Moriarty_UPDATED 11-27-2015
Nylon Solo Blanchette, archguitar UPDATED 11-27-2015

Practice Audio Links: (this post is updated frequently)

Nylon 2 Beethoven videos here.
Acoustics Beethoven videos here.
E1 Group Beethoven videos here.
E2 Group Beethoven videos here.


About our younger players …

HVGO always has young players in the ensemble … The youngest to audition was 11 years old, joining when HVGO started in 2010- continuing for four more years- and has become a formidable jazz bassist. Another guitarist, who fronted an award winning band in high school, played a soloist role in many pieces, and has gone on to study music at USC.
We currently have students from a valley high school and community college filling out our roster.

Over the years, a pattern has emerged: young people who join HVGO gain an abiding love of music, of working together on minute details in their playing, and then they move on! We lose them, wether to college or into a career in music. It’s bittersweet to see them leave, and the HVGO community is proud of them all, and this is exactly as it should be. We also look forward meeting the next eager, interested young woman or man who wants to play in the orchestra! If you know a young person who might be right for HVGO, info on audition/interviews is right here!

Gwen Moriarty, Matt O'leary, Nylon String Guitarsdemeo_hvgo_prtrt_2kohlin_prtrt

Joe Ricker, HVGO’s Assistant Musical Director

Joe RickerHVGO enthusiastically welcomes Joe Ricker on board as the new Assistant Musical Director. Along with his invaluable contribution as electric guitarist in the ensemble, Joe will assist Musical Director Peter Blanchette in running full and sectional rehearsals, and help create a comprehensive “HVGO Book,” – a complete repertoire of guitar orchestra arrangements for other nascent guitar orchestras to use in practice and performance. Further, Joe will lead in the development of HVGO’s educational and outreach components, working with Pioneer Valley area schools to form young people’s guitar ensembles, based on the HVGO approach.

Joe Ricker is one half of the critically acclaimed Duo Orfeo (, lauded as “Brilliant and wild-thinking artists.” Duo Orfeo’s 2012 release, I Sing the Body Electric featured Ricker’s distinctive and colorful use of electric guitars and his transcendent arrangements of Arvo Pärt, John Cage, Valentin Sylvestrov and other modern composers. Ricker is a graduate of the University of Hartford’s Hartt School where he studied classical guitar performance and was a longtime pupil of renowned guitar pedagogue Phillip de Fremery (a student of Andres Segovia). Joe lives with his wife Shana in Northampton, Massachusetts, and is a dedicated guitar teacher at his “Guitar Studio of Joe Ricker.”  More about Duo Orfeo at


Joe Ricker & Peter Blanchette interviewed on The Bill Newman Show, WHMP Radio, Sep. 16, 2014

Duo Orfeo play music of John Cage (1912-1992):
In a Landscape Arranged by Joe Ricker.


HVGO Spring Concert 2014, Northampton: Friday. May 9th • 7:30PM

Sweeney Concert Hall at Sage Hall, Smith College
Friday, May 9, 2014 •  7:30pm
Presented by the Northampton Center for the Arts
and with special sponsorship from Peoples Bank
HVGO returns for our Annual Spring Concert event.


Tickets: $15 adults, $12 for students/children available at the door and online through Brown Paper Tickets.

HVGO’s annual spring concert features an expectedly unexpected program of music from minimalist composers Philip Glass and Arvo Pärt, 18th century Scottish dance music of Nathanial Gow, instrumental arrangements of songs by critically-acclaimed midwest rockers Wilco, and of 80s England’s  The Smiths, along with more surprises from the renaissance to the 21st Century.
Now in its fifth season, HVGO pushes the music of Philip Glass further with arrangements of his Metamorphoses I & III for piano. Blanchette on HVGO’s embrace of Glass: “He came of age as an artist in the 60s in America, so perhaps it is no coincidence that the patterns in Glass’ music are very similar to riffs in guitar-driven rock music. The meditative state one arrives at, if one plays Glass with that all-important balance of alertness and relaxation, gives his music a naturalistic quality that belies the almost manic, mechanical structure of his pieces.”
This performance is made possible by generous support from PeoplesBank.

HVGO premiere: Frank Wallace’s “Nuevas Cantigas.” Meet the Composer!


On April 26th the Happy Valley Guitar Orchestra will premiere selections from American Composer Frank Wallace’s Nuevas Cantigas, arranged by musical director Peter Blanchette. Mr. Wallace will attend the Northampton performance given by HVGO at the First Churches in Northampton, MA on Friday, April 26th. He will also give a workshop, open to the public, on composing and arranging for guitar at the Luthier’s Co-op, in Easthampton, MA, on Wednesday evening, April 24, at 7:30PM. The collaboration between the composer and  HVGO is funded in part through New Music USA’s Creative Connections Program.

American Record Guide calls Frank Wallace’s compositions “exciting, unpredictable, and fresh”. Fanfare magazine has dubbed him a composer with “an authentic expressive voice” and a “high standard of musical interest” who performs with “flawless technical proficiency”. New music reviewers have also honored Wallace’s work: Frank Oteri of calls it “contemporary musical emancipation”. The New Hampshire Council on the Arts has twice honored Wallace’s compositions with the prestigious Artist Fellowship Award: in 2001 for Frank Wallace, his own new works (Gyre 10012), his debut recording on Gyre of his own compositions, and in 2006 for the Duo LiveOak CD Woman of the Water (Gyre 10082). Wallace’s works showcase the classical guitar in solo, duo and trio, as well as in chamber works with voice, flute, cello, English horn, mandolin, and piano. His compositional style has many influences, from the blues and jazz to medieval and avant garde. Great passion and a sense of humor infuse both his compositions and his performances.

In the past ten years Frank Wallace has become one of the most prolific composers of songs with classical guitar of our time. He has written over 90 songs set to classical guitar or lute, most of them in groups (cycles) ranging from six to fifteen songs, set to poetry from many sources, including Pulitzer-prize winning poet Theodore Roethke, Robert Creeley, Roald Hoffmann, Rumi, Guillevic, Shem Tov Ben Palquera, his own grandfather and wife Nancy Knowles. The richness and complexity of his song accompaniments and his compelling vocal melodies highlight the influence of his mentors, from Dowland to Schubert to Britten.

“He is an impressive talent in every respect; he is a strong guitarist, a composer with a distinct voice, and a confident vocalist.”—Soundboard

More info on Frank Wallace at the website, Gyre Music.